A full 65% said thinking about the federal government exhausts them. A mere 4% of Americans say government is functioning well, and 63% say they have little to no confidence in the future of the political system. When asked to identify strengths of the American political system, 22% of respondents said there were none.
Those numbers are among the lowest levels of approval in seven decades. Americans are also dissatisfied with the Supreme Court for the first time since the 1980s. When asked to describe their feelings on the system, poll respondents used the words “divisive” and “corrupt” most often.
The views aren’t strictly partisan, with nearly three in 10 Americans holding unfavorable views of both parties, and a quarter of adults said they don’t feel well-represented by either side of the political spectrum.
The dissatisfaction was expressed across all races, ages and among those with differing levels of engagement with politics. When asked about the biggest issues, voters offered critiques of politicians followed by partisan fighting.
Among voters, 57% said the media pays too much attention to conflicts between Democrats and Republicans, and 78% said there isn’t enough focus on issues facing the country.
Respondents also reported dissatisfaction with the choice of political candidates, with 63% of Americans saying they weren’t happy with the candidates who have emerged so far.
At the root of some dissatisfaction? Money. A full 85% of Americans think the cost of political campaigning makes it challenging to attract good candidates, 81% said members of Congress do a bad job separating their financial interests from their work, and 80% said big donors have too much influence on the system.
A large share of Americans support changes to the system, including establishing term limits for members of Congress, setting age limits for elected officials and members of the Supreme Court and eliminating the Electoral College.